Couponing 101 – Saving Money This Fall

Couponing 101

OSC Intern and Couponing Extraordinaire, Sara is back this month helping our families keep to their budgets!! She is hosting a class in Fredericksburg this week but thought she would share some of her tricks with everyone so you can save this fall!!

Just because there is a coupon doesn’t mean you need to buy it! ONLY purchase what you will use or donate, not because you think the coupon will go to waste or because it’s a great deal. I am referring to food products…who needs 100 boxes of pasta??

If your intention is to start a stockpile, you will need to put out little money out front- this is for CVS mainly.

Shop at stores that double your coupon! Wegmans and Giant are the only 2 around here, plus Harris Teeter if you are going north, or Kroger if you are going south.

Each store has its own coupon policy, if it is a place you often shop, go online and print out their policy. Most cashiers do not even know their policy, and if you are getting a great deal, they tend to want to be the coupon police.

Sometimes couponing means you have to go to a few different stores to get the great deals, fortunately here many stores are close together therefore you aren’t really wasting gas, it just may take a little longer.

DO NOT EXPECT TO BE A COUPON QUEEN IN THE FIRST WEEK! Learning to coupon can be a difficult process and often time consuming initially.


To get the BEST deals, you cannot be brand specific. With that being said, there are good deals on numerous popular brands all the time, so don’t be worried, your deals may just be fewer and far between. SO with that said, if you are brand specific (say toilet paper) and a good deal comes out, find a way to get more coupons and stock up! You may need to purchase extra Sunday newspapers, go to your local library to print off coupons, or ask friends and neighbors if they are going to be using that specific coupon.

Where to find coupons- Sunday newspaper, (must have a printer, you can print 2 of each coupon from each device you have, i.e. computer, smart phone, I pad, etc.), Many stores have their own printable coupons as well, Target and CVS being 2 examples that I use frequently.

What to do with those coupons you aren’t going to use- SHARE THEM! Don’t have a need for baby coupons, but do need pet coupons, share with your friends, neighbors, or even on coupon trains.

Did you know that Target will accept a manufactures coupon, a target coupon and you can use your cartwheel and your red card all on one item? Don’t know what cartwheel is? Look it up and download it to your smart phone!

CVS will also accept a manufacture coupon as well as a CVS coupon on 1 item. CVS is my go to place for anything that I need as far as laundry detergent and personal hygiene products. Diapers and makeup items as well! Don’t have a CVS card? GET ONE!

CVS has a program called EXTRA CARE BUCKS, you purchase an item and that item will give you money back on the spot for your purchase. You must have a CVS card in order to participate in this program, it is free so no excuse for not having one. The ECB (Extra care buck) that prints at the bottom of your receipt can be used or “rolled” into your next purchase. For example, this past week there was a Proctor and Gamble deal where you spend $30 you receive a $10 ECB back. SO already essentially $30 worth of products for $20, then you start adding in your coupons and the deal gets even sweeter. Here is a deal I did this week, just as an example.

Pampers were on sale 2/19.98

Tide was on sale 5.94

So I purchased 2 bags of diapers, 2 bottles of Tide for a total of 31.86 before taxes. I had coupons for each item, $1.50 off each bag of diapers and $2 off each tide (newspaper) so that brought my total to $24.86 before taxes. I had $24 in ECB from a few weeks ago to “roll” into this deal. I got my total to .86 plus tax. I paid 2.xx out of pocket and received a $10 ECB for my next purchase.

But you will not start off with ECB’s so your first scenario would look like this: 31.86 – 7.00 in coupons. $24.86 plus tax is what you would pay and receive the $10 ECB for your next purchase. Remember when I said you had to put a little money out up front at CVS?

I always try to roll my ECB’s into something that will give back ECB’s, but when the deals run dry (happens a few times a year for me) then I use them on things we need, bread, milk or toilet paper, I just get as much with whatever amount I have. ECB’s have a life of 30 days for the most part, meaning you have 30 days to “roll” them into something else before they expire.

I am a firm believer that you should never pay for certain things, toothpaste and toothbrushes being a few. Also shampoo/conditioner, body wash and razors should just be pennies on the dollar, if you are doing the deals that CVS has to offer.

Can you tell I am a CVS fan?

LOVE TARGET? They often offer gift cards for purchasing a certain number of items- this week one deal is buy 3 tide, downy, bounty, charmin or Swiffer items for x.xx amount get a $10 gift card back. If you are brand loyal to any of these products, this could be a good deal. There were coupons in the Sunday paper for each one of these items, so once you mix the gift card with the coupons, you could save several dollars.

Obviously I am stocking up on baby items currently, and Target had a great deal a few months ago, I didn’t participate but should have. There were multiple baby deals going on that could be combined, spend $100 on baby items get $20 gift card, spend $200 get a $40 gift card, buy 3 boxes of diapers get a $25 gift card. The diapers were 34.99 a box and there were various coupons out depending on the brand of diapers. I will use pampers as an example, there were $3 manufacture coupons per box (limit 4 per coupon policy), along with $2 Target coupons, and a cartwheel for 10% off any diapers. SO when you do the math it looked like this.

6 boxes diapers @ 209.94 then you take off your coupons so 209.94 – 12 (4×3) manufacture =197.94 – 8 (4×2) target = 189.94 – 10% (18.99) =170.95 plus tax is what you would pay and in return you would receive a $40 gift card for spending $200 (this is done before coupons), as well as 2 $25 gift cards for buying 6 boxes of diapers. SO after the $90 in gift cards that you earned, you essentially got the 6 boxes of diapers for 80.95 plus tax, or 13.49 a box. If you have a Target Red card, an extra 5% would come off as well.

You then have $90 in Target Gift Cards to do whatever you want with, groceries, Christmas presents, clothes, or you could even roll it back into the same deal to get it even cheaper. This is just one example, Target does gift card deals all the time.

I use several websites to find the great deals, sometimes I do my own but I love to look and see what others are doing, and like to see if I have missed anything. I am a fan of, and Many times they do the work for you, down to telling you where the coupons can be found that are needed for the deal.

I also use several different savings apps on my phone, IBOTTA is my favorite. Join my team by using my referral code- tgtgeg, I will earn money when you redeem your first deal as will you! I currently have a lifetime amount of 248.55 earned, just for purchasing everyday items. is the same way, there is no referral code or team work on this one, and both are free to join.

Now to FOOD! Food for me is much harder to coupon for, or maybe I am so used to getting personal items for so cheap, that a 40-50% savings doesn’t sound very good! Cereal deals come around roughly every 6 weeks, so when Giant offers $6 off 4 boxes, I will do as many transactions as I have coupons. Once again it is 4 like coupons per purchase. The deal usually looks like this

4 boxes @ 3.29 each =13.16- $6 for purchasing 4 boxes = 7.16, and the coupons are usually 50-75 cents off each box, making it look like this. 7.16- .50-.50 (coupon doubles remember) -.50-.50-.50-.50-.50-50 which leaves you with 3.16 plus tax, or less than a dollar a box. If you can find the 75 cent coupons it is even better, 29 cents a box plus tax! My girls eat cereal like it is going out of style, so I usually hunt down enough coupons for 4-5 transactions, or 16-20 boxes. I know this will be just enough to get us to the next sale, roughly 6 weeks away.

Target last week had Kraft cheese on sale, shredded or block, 5 for $10. Pretty good deal already, however on, there were 75 cents off of 1! That made each item only 1.25, which is a great deal for cheese. However you must remember you can only buy them in lots of 4, due to the coupon policy. Target often has $5 off coupons when you purchase $25 worth of grocery items, which mixed with coupons and the cartwheel app can make for great deals as well.

This is all just scratching the surface, there is so much to learn about couponing, and every store is different. Many stores do not accept coupons at all, ALDI and Costco to name a few.


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